Thanksgiving: Can a Christian give thanks?

The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930)


The fourth Thursday in November is the American holiday called Thanksgiving. Unlike most holidays observed in the USA, this one is not of pagan origin. Hence, the vast majority in the Church of God (COG) consider it an “optional” (not biblically-required) holiday.

According to Wikipedia:

In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. It is the only other country outside of the United States that officially observes the day as a holiday.

Jesus Himself seemed to observe a national Jewish, as opposed to a biblical, holiday called the Feast of the Dedication as it is recorded in the New Testament that He went to the Temple during it (John 10:22-23).

As Americans know, the history related to the USA Thanksgiving involves a group of people commonly known as the Pilgrims.

They were a dissenting religious group considered to be outside of mainstream “Christianity”. The Pilgrims felt that the only way to freely practice their religion was to physically separate themselves from the Church of England that had persecuted them. First, to flee persecution, these “Separatists,” moved to the English Midlands. Then they went to Amsterdam in 1607. In 1609, they moved to the more religiously tolerant Netherlands. But they decided that this would not do. Finally, they began their voyage to America in 1620. It took months to cross the sea and they lost many during that voyage as well as after coming to America. In spite of all their sufferings and the death of half of their company, in October 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest. In 1863, US President Lincoln made a proclamation that ultimately led to Thanksgiving becoming a US holiday.

The persecutions of the Pilgrims somewhat remind me of the history of the Church of God (a related article of interest may be Persecutions by Church and State)

One song that comes to mind to me at this time (and is in the old WCG hymnal, as well as CCOG’s hymnal with the title Oh Give Thanks and Praise the Eternal!) is based on 1 Chronicles 16:8-13 upon which says:

8 Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!
11 Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
13 O seed of Israel His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!

Those of us who understand God’s plan of salvation, should be thankful for being part of those chosen in this age. This is consistent with the following admonition from the Book of Psalms and one from Saint Paul:

4 Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name (Psalm 30:4).

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Anyway, the Bible is full of admonitions to give thanks to God. in the NKJV the term “give thanks” is used 40 times and the term “giving thanks” is used 5 times–and nearly all of these verses are discussing giving thanks to God. The term “thanksgiving” is used 24 times. Here are a few of them:

14 Offer to God thanksgiving (Psalms 50:14).

30 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalms 69:30)

2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 3 For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. (Psalms 95:2-3)

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalms 100:4-5)

It is certainly appropriate to thank God for calling us, blessing us physically, and for the opportunity to understand the purpose of life and God’s way of life, the sacrifice of Jesus, and for the opportunity for salvation that He has given to us. We can be grateful for the understanding of God’s great plan that the Kingdom of God will bring peace and abundant prosperity.

Despite the fact that we and the peoples of the world will punished for our sins, God does have a plan to bring peace and prosperity (see the article Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism and a 6000 Year Plan?) and will offer salvation to all (please see the article Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).

While Christians can observe national holidays, presuming they can do so without sinning, they do not have to keep holidays like Thanksgiving. While he was mainly referring to fast days, the following from the Apostle Paul seems to be applicable here:

5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. (Romans 14:5-6)

If one has a problem of conscience keeping Thanksgiving, then one should not. But, either way, Christians should thank and praise God.

Give thanks and praise the Eternal!

The Continuing Church of God has this sermon from on its ContinuingCOG YouTube channel:


Ingratitude and Giving Thanks

Are you thankful? Does the Bible teach that you are supposed to be? What did Dibar Apartian write was ‘the most common sin’? What does the Bible say about thanks and praise? Is ingratitude warned against? Is unthankfulness prophesied? Can the thankful commit the unpardonable sin? What should you be thankful for? Dr. Thiel addresses these issues and more.

Here is a link to the sermon: Ingratitude and Giving Thanks.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Thanksgiving: Can Christians keep it? Is this American holiday appropriate? Why or why not?
Giving Thanks Are Christians supposed to give thanks? Why? Is unthankfulness warned against? Here is a link to a related sermon titled: Ingratitude and Giving Thanks.
Living as a Christian: How and Why? In what ways do Christians live differently than others. What about praying, fasting, tithing, holy days, and the world? There are also two YouTube video related to this: Living as a Christian: How and Why? and Living as a Christian: Pure Milk of the Word.
Living as a Christian: Strong Meat Can you handle solid spiritual food? A related sermon is available: Strong Meat: James 1-2 and Strong Meat: James 3-5.
What is the Unpardonable Sin? What is it? Can you repent of it? Do you know what it is and how to avoid it? Here is a link to a related sermon video The Unpardonable Sin and the Prodigal Son.
Praises to Jesus Christ or Biblical Hymns: Which Should Christians Primarily Sing? This biblical article on music is in response to an advertisement critical of WCG’s 1974 The Bible Hymnal. It also address early church practices here.
The Bible Hymnal via Amazon. This is the paperback edition of the hymnal used by the Continuing Church of God. It consists of all the songs that were part of the 1974 edition of ‘The Bible Hymnal’ used by the old Worldwide Church of God, plus ten other hymns that Herbert Armstrong approved that were written by Ross Jutsum. The songs in this book are essentially the Psalms and other passages in the Bible set to music. To access it free online, click: The Bible Hymnal. Amazon sells a hard copy of The Bible Hymnal for $8.99.

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